Momentum. This simple word is what CHC executive pastor Aries Zulkarnain wants the church to work on as 2018 begins.
“It can be hard to pick up where you left off when transitioning into a new year. This may lead to dry periods in a believer’s walk with God.”
Aries Zulkarnain, an executive pastor at City Harvest Church, touched on an all-too-real point during his sermon on the weekend of Jan 20 and 21. He was teaching the church how to gain momentum from the start of the year.
Zulkarnain drew from two earlier sermons that CHC had heard. In 2014, Dr AR Bernard, senior pastor of Christian Cultural Center (CCC) in Brooklyn, New York, gave a powerful word to the church on being focused. He taught that being focused is knowing that when God is for His people, no one can be against them.
Around the same time, Dr Phil Pringle, founder and president of the C3 Global Network of churches, told CHC that commitment was one of the most important ingredients to being unshakeable in the midst of difficulty.
“When you stay focused and committed to your walk with God, it creates the momentum—the moving power—that gets us to our goals,” said Zulkarnain.
JESUS UNDERSTOOD THE NEED FOR MOMENTUM
Right from the start, Jesus understood that His mission on earth was to spread the Gospel. Zulkarnian described how Jesus knew that the work of spreading the gospel might die with Him dying on the cross, so He gave the disciples instructions in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
In fact, God sent John the Baptist before Jesus was born. John created momentum by preaching repentance and hundreds of people were saved. Later, John was put into prison but his cousin Jesus made sure the preaching of the Word did not stop (Matt 4:12-17).
Jesus picked off where John left off and went around teaching the word and healing the sick. Word started to spread and more people started coming to His meetings. Matthew 4:25 (MSG) says, “More and more people came, the momentum gathering.”
Zulkarnain pointed out, “It is the same for the church and also for us individually. We need momentum not just for our ministry and our spiritual life; we need it every day!”
HOW CAN WE GAIN MOMENTUM?
Momentum starts with God.
Jesus told the disciples to wait for the empowerment of the Holy Spirit before they went out to become witnesses for Him (Acts 1:8).
“God wants us to re-adjust our focus,” Zulkarnian said. “We want to pray that City Harvest will get back the momentum of the joy of the harvest.“
In Judges 6:13, Gideon was so caught up in his circumstance that he lost his faith in God and could not see the future.
Zulkarnain preached from verses 14-16. “But friends, God faced Gideon directly. God wanted him to re-focus his attention on God. God was still with Gideon throughout the hardship.
“Forget about your misery and focus on the miracles to come. The acronym for the word ‘FOCUS’ can be ‘Follow One Course Until Successful’.”
The pastor illustrated his point with the story of Olympic shooter, Károly Takács. He lost his right hand to an unfortunate explosion but that setback did not stop him. Takács eventually learned to shoot with his left hand and in 1994 won a few gold medals in the Olympic games.
“He didn’t focus on what he didn’t have but on what he had,” said Zulkarnain.
Behind every success is a process, a journey taken to reach an achievement. This process is often the factor that determines the outcome of the success.
“You need to be committed to that process,” Zulkarnain told the congregation.
God works in patterns according to a principle. It is thus important to recognize the pattern, or the process, of a harvest. “It always starts with conditioning the soil, then sowing the seed, watering the seed and finally reaping the harvest,” said the preacher.
“You know why it starts with the conditioning of the soil? Because in the Living Bible says ‘For the soil made the seeds grow’,” he added.
Think of yourselves not as the farmer, but as the seed, Zulkarnian said. Mark 4:26-29 (MSG) says, “God’s kingdom is like seed thrown on a field by a man who then goes to bed and forgets about it. The seed sprouts and grows—he has no idea how it happens.”
“When God deposits a seed in us, in the form of a vision or dream, we get excited and want to see the harvest. But it seems like God went to sleep and forgot about it. We get impatient and think that God has abandoned us. God can go to sleep because He knows that the hard work comes at the reaping, not the sowing! He has not abandoned us, He is simply preparing us so that we are fresh and ready to work when the harvest comes,” said Zulkarnain.
He reminded the congregation that when they feel forgotten and unseen, it is because God is keeping them hidden from sight so that it forces them to seek validation from God instead of man. He encouraged the congregation to be focused on their goals and committed to mundane routines.
“Your small moments in the mundane will culminate in your big moment of glory,” Zulkarnain concluded.
“This sermon has been really impactful to me as it’s the new year, and it shifted my focus to living a purposeful life for God,” said Immanuel Pang, 17, an accountancy student. “My greatest takeaway would be that God will never neglect me even through the seasons when I think He’s absent.”
Self-employed Debbie Huang, 28, added, “The sermon really reminded me about the importance of staying faithful and committed to the process because, ultimately, God is more interested in our character than in our comfort. It was a great word to start 2018 with.”